New Mexico State University-Grants Campus (NMSU-Grants) in Grants, New Mexico, is a two-year public community college within the New Mexico State University system, offering transfer-oriented Associate of Arts and Science degrees, Associate in Applied Science degrees, and occupational certificates. New Mexico State University-Grants Campus serves Cibola County (population 27,285) in Western New Mexico, a rural, isolated area with a majority-minority population (34 percent Hispanic, 41 percent Native American). With just 10 percent of adults holding bachelor degrees and family poverty rate of 31percent, area residents look New Mexico State University-Grants as a first step out of hardship. Subsequently, institutional enrollment has nearly doubled since 2004, with particular increases in Web-based courses. Despite area demand for professionals in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math transfer opportunities at our parent institution New Mexico State University-Las Cruces, just 3.6 percent of our Hispanic students have declared Science, Technology, Engineering and Math majors (fall 2008). Since 2003, only 21 of our Hispanic students have transferred into New Mexico State University-Las Cruces Science, Technology, Engineering and Math degree programs. While students increasingly look to the Web for educational access, New Mexico State University-Grants faculty have not been systematically trained in Web-based instruction and tools. As a result, haphazard development of Web-based courses has depended upon a few faculty with expertise, leaving gaps in online and blended courses (online didactic content, on-ground laboratory instruction) leading to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math degrees. Meanwhile, infrastructure deficiencies, including outdated science instrumentation, technology limitations, and inadequate facilities, undermine the University’s ability to connect Hispanic, low income students to effective Science, Technology, Engineering and Math learning environments.
Over the life of the grant New Mexico State University-Grants proposes the following activity: Connecting To STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math): Identifying the Path.
The activity will deliver extensive faculty development in Web-based instruction, supported by Faculty Studio tools and resources and resulting in the redesign/conversion of a host of core General Education and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math courses to highly-effective online and blended (online didactic content coupled with on-ground lab instruction) formats. Newly developed online services – including Online Advising, Online Orientation, Online Quick Connect (academic Early Alert), Online Library Resources, and Online Career/Transfer Resources, built upon improved technological infrastructure, will be accessible wirelessly and from updated computer labs on campus, as well as from outreach center labs throughout the region. Updated science instrumentation and a newly-developed Environmental/Chemistry Lab will support blended Science, Technology, Engineering and Math curricula, including newly developed introductory courses in Environmental Technology, Energy Technology, and Engineering Technology–areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math career growth in New Mexico.